July 11, 2013 PetGuide
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Cornish Rex

  • Height: 12-14 inches
  • Weight: 6-10 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Physique: Curved body, huge ears
  • Temperament: Households with children, singles with other pets
  • Comparable Breeds: Singapura, Munchkin

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The Cornish Rex breed originated from a litter of five kittens born in Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, England in 1950. One of the males, later named Kallibunker, looked like a little red and white lamb. He was covered in rows of tight curls. As he grew, he took on all the characteristics of the Cornish Rex breed. With his fine-boned, slender body, long legs, and huge ears, Kallibunker was a true mutation. He was bred back to his mother, a tortoiseshell named Serena, a pairing that produced three offspring. Two were males with curly coats. One, Poldhu, survived to adulthood. Kallibunker and Poldhu were then bred to Siamese, Burmese, and British domestic shorthairs. This gave the Cornish Rex breed a strong genetic base in which to cultivate the recessive gene for the distinctive appearance and curly coat. Unfortunately, the breed almost went extinct in Great Britain until one of Kallibunker’s great-great-great grandsons was imported to Canada in 1965 and a North American line was established.

The Cornish Rex is very much a people cat.

cornish-rex-1The Cornish Rex is very much a people cat. They may look elegant, even aloof and dignified, but in reality they are active and affectionate. Throughout its life, a Cornish Rex will engage in kitten-like antics and is always up for games of fetch and even catch. Their paws are extremely agile, and the breed is known for picking up and tossing small objects. The Cornish Rex is a great addition to the family, and happily puts itself right in the middle of whatever is going on, but they are not great talkers.

The Cornish Rex has a lovely, curved profile reminiscent of a Whippet. The distinctive head is egg-like in shape, with prominent, high cheekbones, which gives the face an “otherworldly” look. The cheeks are hollow, and the nose is strongly bridged between large, high-set ears. Although this cat has a long, narrow body, the Rex is also barrel chested, narrowing significantly at the waist. The legs are long and fine. The seemingly delicate appearance of the Rex does not betray just how muscular these animals really are, or how well nature has designed them for the high jumps and quick turns for which they are known. The Rex has a tight, curly coat lying close against the body. It falls into wavy rows and is sumptuously soft to the touch.

cornish-rex-2The Cornish Rex can be found in all recognized colors and coat patterns. The only real requirement is that the cat’s curls lie in “marcel” waves.

The Rex has a short, tight coat that is fine in texture, but they do shed (minimally), and they are not hypoallergenic cats. They have no special grooming requirements, and rarely require bathing. Because they are social and outgoing, they do enjoy being brushed, and they don’t object to the process. Care should be taken to make sure their large ears remain clean and free of debris.

Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock

Comparable Breeds

Go to Singapura


  • Height: 7-8 inches
  • Weight: 5-8 lb
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Physique: Stocky and muscular
  • Best Suited For: Families with other pets.
  • Temperament: Active, curious, playful and talkative. Very intelligent
  • Comparable Breeds: American Curl, Japanese Bobtail
Go to Munchkin


  • Height: 7-8 inches
  • Weight: 5-9 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-14 years
  • Physique: small, short legs
  • Best Suited For: Families with children or single people
  • Temperament: Playful and active. Kitten-like well into adulthood
  • Comparable Breeds: Chartreux, Somali, Cornish Rex